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The Houston Area Kossacks held a meet-up today, which took the form of a house party at htowngenie's place in support of Wendy Davis. Our host had the excellent idea of asking everybody to bring their favorite ethnic appetizers. Great idea, but it kind of put me in a tough spot, not really knowing many "ethnic" recipes.

After wrestling with it a bit, I decided to go with xiu mai, or Vietnamese meatballs, cooked in a caramel sauce (nuoc mac). Now, first of all, I will say up-front that this recipe has earned me scolding from both my Vietnamese BF and his mom. Xiu mai is most often prepared in a tomato sauce. But I thought the recipe over at Wandering Chopsticks (a great how-to website for many Vietnamese dishes) looked yummy, and the writer of the recipe recalls his Vietnamese mother making delicious meatballs in caramel sauce. Just be aware, though, that xiu mai is not normally prepared this way. Also, it is usually eaten on a sandwich (I talk all about banh mi here). But hey. Cut the white boy some slack, k? I'm breaking out of my box a little here! And they really did turn out quite delicious, if I may say so myself.

Follow me below the [insert clever way to describe fold here] for the method and pics, but my sous-chef Zoe.

(Don't worry, Houston Area Kossacks, Zoe was not actually around the food preparation...her position as sous-chef was purely honorary.)

Start out with about a pound of ground pork. I'm using a little more, so the rest of my ingredients will be slightly increased as well.

Add two tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of fish sauce, one tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of black pepper, three minced cloves of garlic, and one small chopped onion (I'm using onion powder, because gross).

Stir it all up.

Now comes the fun part. Form the meat into about 20-24 two-inch balls.

In a large pot or pan, heat up a little oil. Add the meatballs and cook on medium-high heat. The goal here is not to cook them through, but rather to cook them enough on the outside to give them form. Otherwise, when you add them to the caramel sauce, they could fall apart.

Set the meatballs aside.

Empty the oil out of the pan, but try to leave some of the meat chunks for flavor. Now it's time to make the caramel sauce. It's really easy--just add two tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of water to the pan and stir.

Cook on medium heat for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, you will notice that the mixture has caramelized into a brown sauce.

Add one cup of water and stir.

Add the meatballs. Let them simmer in the sauce on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, or until they're cooked through.

After they're cooked, eat them with rice or on a sandwich (or serve them as appetizers at a Daily Kos meet-up...whatever works!). Voi la!

I have just enough leftover meatballs from the meet-up to make myself a tasty sandwich!

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Finally, readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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